Srikanth Reddy's first book of poetry is Facts for Visitors (University of California Press, 2004). His work has appeared in various journals, including APR, The Canary, Fence, Grand Street, jubilat, and A Public Space. Reddy is currently an assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago.


Links:
UC Press

Three poems by Srikanth Reddy


Burial Practice

Then the pulse.
Then a pause.
Then twilight in a box.
Dusk underfoot.
Then generations.

*

Then the same war by a different name.
Wine splashing in a bucket.
The erection, the era.
Then exit Reason.
Then sadness without reason.
Then the removal of the ceiling by hand.

*

Then pages & pages of numbers.
Then the page with the faint green stain.
Then the page on which Prince Theodore, gravely wounded, is thrown onto a wagon.
Then the page on which Masha weds somebody else.
Then the page that turns to the story of somebody else.
Then the page scribbled in dactyls.
Then the page which begins Exit Angel.
Then the page wrapped around a dead fish.
Then the page where the serfs reach the ocean.
Then a nap.
Then the peg.
Then the page with the curious helmet.
Then the page on which millet is ground.
Then the death of Ursula.
Then the stone page they raised over her head.
Then the page made of grass which goes on.

*

Exit Beauty.

*

Then the page someone folded to mark her place.
Then the page on which nothing happens.
The page after this page.

Then the transcript.
Knocking within.

Interpretation, then harvest.

*

Exit Want.
Then a love story.

Then a trip to the ruins.
Then & only then the violet agenda.
Then hope without reason.
Then the construction of an underground passage between us.


Corruption

I am about to recite a psalm that I know. Before I begin, my expectation extends over the entire psalm. Once I have begun, the words I have said remove themselves from expectation & are now held in memory while those yet to be said remain waiting in expectation. The present is a word for only those words which I am now saying. As I speak, the present moves across the length of the psalm, which I mark for you with my finger in the psalm book. The psalm is written in India ink, the oldest ink known to mankind. Every ink is made up of a color & a vehicle. With India ink, the color is carbon & the vehicle, water. Life on our planet is also composed of carbon & water. In the history of ink, which is rapidly coming to an end, the ancient world turns from the use of India ink to adopt sepia. Sepia is made from the octopus, the squid & the cuttlefish. One curious property of the cuttlefish is that, once dead, its body begins to glow. This mild phosphorescence reaches its greatest intensity a few days after death, then ebbs away as the body decays. You can read by this light.


(from Voyager, Bk. II)

When the rains came
the call
came

                                           a passport to heaven

                                                                                    Orel

     I was wounded                 by a             splinter
a serious
wound

                                     by happy chance
                     Mein lieber Freund


the

                          formal
law

                                                                                  helped
to see me through


                                                                     [death


repairs
                                                                                    to
                                                                 the countryside]

farm      farm

                                                                               for sale